Home Nigeria Ahead handover: Military vows crackdown on security threats, warns IPOB, others

Ahead handover: Military vows crackdown on security threats, warns IPOB, others

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Ahead of the May 29 handover,  the Defence Headquarters on Monday vowed to resist anything that would truncate democracy.

The Director of Defence Information, Brigadier General Tukur Gusau, stated this in an interview with one of our correspondents in Abuja, just as the Chief of Army Staff, Lt Gen Faruk Yahaya, threatened to crack down on potential threat to national security and warned the Indigenous People of Biafra, Eastern Security Network and other fringe groups not to test the will of the military.

He said the peaceful conduct of the general elections despite the insecurity engineered by the outlawed groups was a testament to the military’s resolve to ensure security across the country.

The military spoke against the background of the security crisis that preceded the election in parts of the country and the recent agitation for interim national government by some groups dissatisfied with the outcome of the presidential election won by the All Progressives Congress candidate, Bola Tinubu.

Citing the violence and other malpractices that allegedly characterised the polls, the groups were insisting that Tinubu should not be sworn in on May 29, noting that an interim government should be put in place instead.

Sequel to the clamour, the Department of State Services alerted the nation to a plot by unnamed politicians to scuttle the transition and install an interim government.

The secret police said it was monitoring the plotters and warned them against fomenting any crisis in the country.

Reacting to further questions on if the military would collaborate with the DSS  to thwart the plans of the identified plotters of ING, the defence spokesman said, “We are ready to protect democracy. The CDS (the Chief of Defence Staff) has stated this severally. We will not do anything that would truncate democracy in the country.”

On his part, the chief of army staff while addressing the participants at the Chief of Army Staff First Quarter Conference at the Command Officers’ Mess, Abuja, said nobody should threaten the integrity of Nigeria or attempt to truncate democracy in the country.

The army chief stated, “The peaceful conduct of the 2023 general elections across the country including in the South-East despite the sense of insecurity created by criminal elements in the region, is a testament to our resolve to ensure security in the entire nation.

“Let me state here that elections or no elections, neither IPOB (Indigenous People of Biafra) , ESN (Eastern Security Network) nor any other group, groups or individuals should threaten the integrity of this nation as enshrined in the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.’’

Speaking further, the COAS commended the army for its adherence to the guidelines and implementation of the decisions taken at the 2022 conference “as evident in our professional conduct and apolitical disposition during the just concluded general elections.

“Your strict adherence to my directives and guidance in this respect is quite commendable. The efforts by the Army Headquarters to go around formations to deliver lectures on introspection of past experiences and efforts at improving NA support to operation safe conduct 2023 are also noted to have yielded desired outcomes.

“I am proud to say that various groups, organisations and distinguished individuals have commended our troops’ efforts during the 2023 general elections.

“Accordingly, elections were therefore held in the South-East and successfully too, just like other parts of the country. Generally, our operations and decisive actions against the criminal elements have impacted positively the security situation in the region, giving confidence to law-abiding citizens in the South-East.

“The peaceful conduct of general elections across the country including in the South East despite the sense of insecurity created by criminal elements in the region is a testament to our resolve to ensure security in the entire nation.’’

Inter-service activities

Highlighting the various operations and inter-service activities which helped in bringing the security crisis under control, the COAS said, “This was made possible through the successful conduct of ‘Operation Safe Conduct 2023’ across the nation which saw the Nigerian Army along with the other Services and Agencies ensuring successful general elections.

“Our additional efforts through Joint Task Force ‘Operation Udoka’ paid off in the South-East thus ensuring successful Elections in the region as well, even though, long before the actual elections, IPOB/ESN and their supporters had threatened that there would be no elections in the Zone.

“Accordingly, elections were therefore held in the South-East and successfully too, just like other parts of the country.”

Efforts to get IPOB’s reaction did not succeed as of the time of filling this report at 10pm on Monday.

Speaking on the clamour for the interim government, retired Brigadier General Bashir Adewinbi maintained that there was no basis for such an arrangement in the country.

He said, “Elections have come and gone and a winner has been declared. There is no point for an ING, there is no basis for ING. Those plotting are trying to divide the country. We do not want division in the nation. The security operative’s should rise to the occasion. Is ING in the constitution? Nobody should be allowed to truncate the democratic system of government in the country. Whoever is aggrieved should go to court.”

Also, Col. Hassan Stan-Labo (retd) said an interim government could not be installed in the country without the backing of the incumbent president.

Alluding to the former ING headed Chief Ernest Shonekan, Stan-Labo argued that it had the support of the then government.

He said, “Can there be any ING without the incumbent government being in the know? Who would organise the swearing-in?  Who would handle all the administrative arrangements? So when people talk about the interim government, they do as if it’s something that can just emerge from nowhere. It is something that must involve the sitting government. ING is not a coup, the government must be in the know to have ING.”

In a new development, some Nigerians on Monday staged a protest in front of the White House in the United States against the outcome of the February 25 presidential election.

In videos shared on social media, the protesters could be seen brandishing placards with different inscriptions, some of which read, ‘Nigerians reject presidential election result’, ‘Democracy under threat in Nigeria’, and ‘Africa needs help to save democracy across the continent,’ amongst others.

A yet-to-be-identified man, who addressed the protesters numbering about a hundred, stated that the presidential election “is a crime against humanity and I think the United States should never stand for this.”

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The man, who claimed to have served as a polling unit agent in the Badagry area of Lagos State, lamented that while they were still struggling to upload results to the result viewing portal of the Independent National Electoral Commission, the electoral body’s Chairman, Prof Mahmood Yakubu, announced a winner of the election.

“So, what we had was just a selection. Just as our vice principal said, there is no president-elect in Nigeria,” he said.

He added that “the person selected as president-elect does not meet the constitutional requirement. His vice president does not meet the constitutional requirement. So, we want the United States Congress to do the right thing, to make sure they stand with the majority of the Nigerian people and make sure that democracy actually prevails in Nigeria.”

Another protester said, “Nigerians have been shocked at the brazen violence which the ruling party brought to the elections. What we witnessed, particularly on March 18 which was the governorship and state Houses of Assembly elections, was an apocalypse.

“We saw people running for their lives, machete-wielding terrorists in broad daylight supported by the police and some soldiers. We are witnessing a total state capture where the terrorist group, the APC, attempts to subvert the will of the people.

US protest

“Nobody voted for Tinubu, nobody voted for the APC because they failed in the past eight years. Nigerians are yearning to break free but they believe that they can get away with whatever they want. We want them to know that they are wrong, and we will no longer be silent. Our votes must count.”

Another unidentified protester said, “It is no longer going to be business as usual. The mandate must be returned. People voted for a particular change and that change must stand. We want INEC to do the needful and make sure that democracy is restored in Nigeria.”

The protesters, who waved Nigerian flags, also took their grievances to the steps of the US Capitol where they were joined by activist Aisha Yesufu who called for the restoration of democracy in Nigeria.

She said, “Democracy must be restored in Nigeria and that is what we need to do. Countries where a lot of us want to go to, countries where things are working, what they’ve simply done is to ensure there is a democracy, there is rule of law, there is accountability and transparency. All of these things are what we also must respect.”

Before the protest was held, the APC, US Chapter, in a statement signed by its Chairman, Prof. Tai Balofin, had expressed the belief that the “protesters will not succeed in their mission to disrupt the peace and stability of Nigeria.”

Also, the US chapter of the APC on Monday wrote the US President, Joe Biden, and the Speaker of the US parliament, Kelvin McCarthy, to ignore the petition and demonstration by some aggrieved Nigerians in front of the White House.

But the Chairman of the United States chapter of the APC warned in a letter written to Biden and McCarthy that the protest was an attempt by some mischievous Nigerians to truncate the country’s democracy.

While stating that the sovereignty of Nigeria since independence had been working, Balofin said the action of the protesters posed a threat to the peace and stability of the country.

He said, “We are writing to you regarding a recent petition that has been submitted, calling for the discrediting of the Nigerian presidential election that was deemed free and fair by the Independent National Electoral Commission. As the leader of a country that upholds democratic values, we implore you to disregard the petition.

“The coming together of activists against the military intensified the democracy we have attainted since 1999. The great men and women who laid down their lives and resources to make this a reality see Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu as an unrepentant frontrunner via the NADECO days who fought to make this democracy a reality.

“He became a reference point and a grandmaster of strategic transformation that nation leaders always run to for ideas and turnarounds.”

Buhari Media Organisation

Meanwhile, the Buhari Media Organisation has described politicians demanding an interim national government as irresponsible and mischievous people who do not mean well for the country.

The group in a statement signed by its Chairman Niyi Akinsiju and Secretary, Cassidy Madueke, said that the warning issued by the DSS was a timely message for politicians plotting to thwart the inauguration of the president-elect.

It stated, “Like many Nigerians, we were surprised by the alarm raised by the DSS over a plot by some Nigerians to prevent the May 29 inauguration of the president-elect.

“We are aware that a group of protesters under the umbrella of Free Nigeria Movement last week took to the streets to call on President Muhammadu Buhari to annul the February 25 presidential election and set up an interim government.

“We however make bold to say that the President Buhari we know would not be part of any form of illegality especially as he had, on more than one occasion, maintained that Tinubu was the choice of the majority of Nigerians that voted on February 28.

“He has also been emphatic about his commitment to a smooth transition and we are convinced that he won’t tolerate any unconstitutional act.

“Buhari has proved to be a democrat by creating the necessary atmosphere for the Independent National Electoral Commission to do its job and had, before the election, urged the parties and their candidates to respect the choice of voters.’’

“We hope that those who security operatives have identified as holding meetings where options like violent mass protests against the outcome of the election were discussed would reconsider their action in the national interest.

“Rather than indulge in mischief by sponsoring protests or seeking frivolous court injunctions, we urge aggrieved politicians to take their evidence, if there is any, to the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal,” the group added.

BMO also expressed hope that the DSS and other security agencies would continue to live up to their constitutional mandate of protecting the country against any internal security threats.

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